Even in his early sixties, Paul Collins is happy to try some new tricks — and revisit some old ones.
The power pop veteran’s new album Out Of My Head — whose opening track “In And Out Of My Head” premieres below — is full of adventures. It was recorded as the “guinea pig” for a friend’s new studio in Brooklyn. It features Collins playing all the drums, as well as guitar, for the first time since his days in the Nerves during the mid-70s. And it finds Collins newly opened to including others’ songs — in this case bassist Paul Stingo, a friend who worked with Collins on Out Of My Head and, in fact, wrote “In And Out Of My Head.”
“I’ve always got my antenna up to find people I have sympatico with, musically, and I knew in the first 30 seconds that (Stingo) gets it,” Collins tells Billboard. “I said, ‘OK, let’s try to work together,’ and that’s a very delicate thing. It either works or it doesn’t work. I’m very picky.” Collins soon found that Stingo was not only on his wavelength as a player and co-writer but also had songs of his own Collins felt he would enjoy recording.
“He showed me (‘In And Out Of My Head’) and I said ‘That’s cool man, that’s really cool. Let’s check that out,'” Collins recalls. “His chord structures and melodic structures are slightly different than me. The song spoke for itself.” And letting it kick off the album was another new stretch for Collins.
“I took me a second, and I said, ‘Come on, man, get over it,'” Collins says. “This is something I learned from (Nerves bandmate) Jack Lee; He was the master of, ‘I don’t care who wrote it. If it’s good it’s good and you get behind it.’ He was like that with my stuff, and that’s a very good place to be. So after a minute of thinking I said, ‘Come on, this is a great song’ and put it first.”
Despite these bits of new world order, however, Collins found making Out Of My Head, which comes out Sept. 28, not all that different from the rest of his catalog, all the way through to (still) fronting the Paul Collins Beat (aka The Beat). “The challenge is always the same,” notes Collins, who’s hoping to play some North American shows this fall and visit Europe during early 2019. “The objective is to get enough good songs together to make a record. Part of me wants to have 12 balls-to-the-wall rock ‘n’ roll (songs) because I’m a rock ‘n’ roller, but that morphs into, ‘Look, I want 12 good songs.’ I don’t care if they’re all ballads or all country songs, as long as I can say in my heart, ‘This is a good song.’ I think we’ve got a record that’s very special.”